Chinese premier calls for 'win-win' cooperation with Canada

China-Cuba ties spearhead China-Latin America relations and were made a model of solidarity and cooperation among developing countries, Chinese Ambassador to Cuba Zhang Tuo told Xinhua recently prior to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Cuba.

In announcing the start of free trade talks, the two countries said two longstanding disputes had been at least partially resolved to improve access for Canadian beef and canola to China's burgeoning market. China imported $5.6 billion of Canadian agricultural and food goods past year, according to the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance.

Li called for deepening cooperation on biotechnology, renewable energy, computers, home appliances and farm machinery, as well as in culture, education and tourism.

"We've agreed to launch exploratory talks toward a potential free-trade agreement between Canada and China", Trudeau said at a joint news conference on Thursday with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

For consecutive years, China has been Cuba's second largest trading partner and an important economic cooperation partner, while Cuba is China's largest trading partner in the Caribbean region.

Scott Bardsley, a press secretary for Canada's Public Safety Minister, said the new agreement - a one-year pilot program - would not immediately go into effect, but will be discussed again in November.

Word of possible free trade talks first surfaced earlier this month during the prime minister's own visit to China, which agreed during that visit to hold off on enforcing tighter regulations on Canadian canola exports.

Li is the first Chinese premier to visit Cuba.

Irritants, however, remain. Li and Trudeau both said they want to see a "science-based" solution to the canola impasse, which revolves around the amount of foreign material permitted in Canadian exports of the grain.

"It is consistent with our national condition", the Chinese leader said.

But he said the treaty would have to spell out clearly that people couldn't be extradited for political crimes, like advocating separatism, and that people extradited wouldn't face the death penalty.

Premier Li Keqiang and Cuban President Raul Castro wave during their meeting at Havana's Revolution Palace, in Cuba, on Saturday.

As an example of China's willingness to open up its markets, Li said China had chose to designate a Chinese investment bank as a clearing bank for renminbi business in NY and welcomed foreign banks in the city which met eligibility requirements to become clearing banks for the currency.

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